Do you want to contribute to improving human health?

To be a doctoral student means to devote oneself to a research project under supervision of experienced researchers and following an individual study plan. For a doctoral degree, the equivalent of four years of full-time doctoral education is required.

The research group

The Cell and Gene Therapy Group (CGTG) have a particular interest in exploring natural killer (NK) cells in patients with multiple myeloma (MM). The group’s primary research focus is to optimize and clinically adapt strategies to retarget NK cells to tumors, with limited off-target effects and toxicity profiles. For this purpose, we are currently performing clinical trials where NK cell responses are enhanced and retargeted against tumor cells in patients with MM. More specifically, we aim to develop novel NK cell-based therapies, including next-generation engagers, next-generation chimeric antigen receptors for NK cells (CAR-NK), and next-generation small molecules for NK cell modulation. Our mission is to shorten production time, increase target cell specificity, and eliminate unwanted side effects of current cell-based immunotherapies. In addition, the product candidates are developed in our translational research laboratories and tested in the clinic, alone and in combination with select existing therapeutics (e.g., antibodies, bispecific engagers, small molecules). 

The student will belong to HERM, a dynamic research center focused on hematology and cancer immunology with labs and platforms situated at NEO and ANA Futura. The primary labs, located at ANA Futura, provide a variety of resources and equipment needed for executing state-of-the-art research, including access to a flow cytometry facility, molecular biology resources, and equipment, culture systems for a variety of cell lines, and primary healthy donor and patient material.

In addition, the group is a part of a VINNOVA-funded competence center, NextGenNK, which is focused on next-generation NK cell therapies. The prospective student will work in the competence center's multidisciplinary, translational environment. 

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

The primary goal of the PhD project is to establish a reproducible protocol for induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to induced NK (iNK) cell differentiation compatible clinical translation for off-the-shelf iNK cell therapy. Specifically aiming to establish a feeder-free differentiation protocol to consistently obtain a pure population of iNK cells, phenotypically and functionally equivalent to primary NK (pNK) cells. In addition, in a second study, we aim to identify the minimal combination of transcription factors able to instruct NK cell identity in human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) to establish a one-step NK cell differentiation protocol from hPSC to iNK cells. The final aspect of this project is to modulate extra and intracellular checkpoints to increase iNK cells persistence and anti-tumor activity. The PhD student will be taking on a screening effort on the transcriptional modulation and lineage commitment assessment in the established differentiation protocols.   

The PhD student is expected to take a strong lead in project management, detailed planning and carrying out of experiments, data generation, as well as analyses and interpretation.

What do we offer?

A creative and inspiring environment full of expertise and curiosity. Karolinska Institutet is one of the world's leading medical universities. Our vision is to pursue the development of knowledge about life and to promote a better health for all. At Karolinska Institutet, we conduct successful medical research and hold the largest range of medical education in Sweden. As a doctoral student you are offered an individual research project, a well-educated supervisor, a vast range of elective courses and the opportunity to work in a leading research group. Karolinska Institutet collaborates with prominent universities from all around the world, which ensures opportunities for international exchanges. You will be employed on a doctoral studentship which means that you receive a contractual salary. Employees also have access to our modern gym for free and receive reimbursements for medical care.

Eligibility requirements for doctoral education

In order to participate in the selection for a doctoral position, you must meet the following general (A) and specific (B) eligibility requirements at latest by the application deadline.

It is your responsibility to certify eligibility by following the instructions on the web page Entry requirements (eligibility) for doctoral education.

A) General eligibility requirement

You meet the general eligibility requirement for doctoral/third-cycle/PhD education if you:

  1. have been awarded a second-cycle/advanced/master qualification (i.e. master degree), or
  2. have satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the advanced/second-cycle/master level, or
  3. have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.*

Follow the instructions on the web page Entry requirements (eligibility) for doctoral education.

*If you claim equivalent knowledge, follow the instructions on the web page Assessing equivalent knowledge for general eligibility for doctoral education.


B) Specific eligibility requirement

You meet the specific eligibility requirement for doctoral/third-cycle/PhD education if you:

- Show proficiency in English equivalent to the course English B/English 6 at Swedish upper secondary school.

Follow the instructions on the web page English language requirements for doctoral education.

Verification of your documents Karolinska Institutet checks the authenticity of your documents. Karolinska Institutet reserves the right to revoke admission if supporting documents are discovered to be fraudulent. Submission of false documents is a violation of Swedish law and is considered grounds for legal action.

(A) and (B) can only be certified by the documentation requirement for doctoral education.

Skills and personal qualities

We are seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic candidate to work on projects focused on pluripotent stem cell and cancer research. You should be collaborative, scientifically adventurous, curiosity-driven, and like teamwork in an international environment. Furthermore, you should be prepared to assume responsibility to accomplish your goals in the project(s) and fulfill the requirements of the doctoral training program. 

As mentioned above, the PhD student is expected to take a strong lead in project management, detailed planning and carrying out of experiments, data generation, as well as analyses and interpretation. The duties also include working in a team and to adhere to high scientific standards and responsibilities. 

The applicants are expected to be ambitious researchers with a robust research drive. Prior experience within pluripotent stem cell cultures and differentiations, molecular biology, flow cytometry, and fluorescence microscopy is mandatory. Previous experience with iPSC reprogramming, pre-GMP product development, CRISPR gene editing and NGS library prep and functional assays of immune cells is meriting. To be able to elaborate on scientific hypotheses, experimental design, experimentation, and presentation/publication of results is expected. Established research article authorship is highly meriting, as is previous training in research laboratories. Candidates must be able to work within a heterogeneous and multicultural team environment but maintain independence to explore their hypotheses and results and drive their project.

Terms and conditions

The doctoral student will be employed on a doctoral studentship maximum 4 years full-time.

Application process

Submit your application and supporting documents through the Varbi recruitment system. Use the button in the top right corner and follow the instructions. We prefer that your application is written in English, but you can also apply in Swedish.

Your application must contain the following documents:

- A personal letter and a curriculum vitae
- Degree projects and previous publications, if any
- Any other documentation showing the desirable skills and personal qualities described above
- Documents certifying your general eligibility (see A above)
- Documents certifying your specific eligibility (see B above)


A selection will be made among eligible applicants on the basis of the ability to benefit from doctoral education. The qualifications of the applicants will be evaluated on an overall basis.

Karolinska Institutet uses the following bases of assessment:

- Documented subject knowledge of relevance to the area of research
- Analytical skill
- Other documented knowledge or experience that may be relevant to doctoral studies in the subject.

All applicants will be informed when the recruitment is completed.

Want to make a difference? Join us and contribute to better health for all

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Flemingsberg
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-272/2023
  • Evren Alici,
Union representative
  • Belinda Pannagel, SACO,
  • Elisabeth Henriksson, OFR,
  • Mari Gilljam, OFR,
Published 20.Jan.2023
Last application date 10.Feb.2023 11:59 PM CET

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